She stands at the top of the stairs in her soft pink and green pajamas – the ones with the ruffles on the ends of each sleeve.  Her long blond hair is tousled and tumbling, fresh from a shower the night before.  Lit by the light of the Christmas tree, she smiles, holding something in her hand.

“My tooth came out,” she says, smiling still, “the one that wasn’t very loose.”

Curled on the couch, I tip my head up to her, drink her in, this vision of seven poised at the top of the stairs.  I smile wide, exaggerating my excitement so it carries across the distance between us.

“How?” I ask in a stage whisper, because the boys are sleeping still, and, “Do you need anything?”

Her reply is long and complicated, filled with unnecessary detail, like every story she tells, exact.  

“Wow,” I offer, not sure what she needs from me.  The first tooth, last April, was a song and dance, picture-taking occasion, but we’re a good ways in to this new season now.

She lingers, eyes twinkling in the light.

“Is it bleeding? Do you need some tissue?”

“I’m going to rinse my mouth,” she says, turning.


This is my daughter who lost her first tooth in the night sometime last year and didn’t bother waking us, who dealt with the blood herself and told us, triumphant, the following morning.

This is the morning they return to school and I feel it again, the pang of grief and loss at yet another vacation spent – too little quiet, too little time, too few moments with this oldest child.

The night before, after prayers and a song, she said for the first time that she didn’t want to go back to school.  She was hanging from my neck, half smiling and I like to think she was ‘playing’ the moment, but maybe she feels it too, the pain of these moments turning us away from each other.


She stands at the top of the stairs, beautiful, like the star shining light on top of the Christmas tree that stands between us.  I sit on the couch, lit by the same light, warm and sleepy-headed still with my journal and coffee in hand. 

She turns toward the bathroom and I hear the water running as she rinses and spits out the blood of her loss.  I turn toward my journal and another sip of darkness, grateful for the moment, grateful to have seen her there, softly lit, standing at the top of the stairs. 

Linking with Imperfect Prose.

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